Curing Time

Curing Time by Tim Swink

“Curing time” is tobacco’s season of harvest, a time of transformation, when the leaf is made golden by subjection to fire and heat. Tobacco farmer Hume Rankin endures his own curing time in the summer of 1959. When the rains won’t come and the crops wilt in the field, he solicits the magic of an old, blind black woman. She warns of the dangers of calling on the middle world and tells him once those spirits are unleashed, it is they who decide when and how the spell unfolds. Hume dismisses her warning, to his peril.

When his life-long nemesis, Worth Baker, who has always had his eye on Hume’s land as well as his wife, is found dead, all eyes are on Hume. He faces the all-too real possibility of losing his land, his family and even his life. Sitting in a jail cell, uncertain of his own innocence, he finds himself lost and a long way from home.

Recalling the old woman’s warning, he is haunted by the possibility that he may have played a part in his own demise.

ISBN 978-0-9910993-1-3 $16.95 Retail

$14.00 on this site

b&n book signing 1

click on photo above to see North Carolina author Tim Swink at various book signing events

Tim Swink “On The Wing”

Barnes and Noble, Greensboro, NC – Thursday, Jan 16th, 7:00 p.m. – reading and book signing

The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC – Friday Jan 24th, 4:30 p.m. – reading and book signing

O. Henry Hotel – Sunday, January 26th, 4:30 p.m. – (Invited to attend) The O. Henry Book Fair, book signing, sponsored by the UNC-G MFA Creative Writing Program, along with nationally published local writers, to include Michael Parker, Fred Chappell, Lee Smith, Drew Perry. O. Henry’s own Jim Dodson will be on hand to welcome the attendees.

Scuppernong Books and Wine, Greensboro, NC  – Friday, January 31, 2014 – 7:00 – 9:00reading and book signing

Barnes and Noble, Burlington NC – Saturday, Feb 8, 2014 – 2:00 – 4:00 -book signing

Barnes and Noble, Winston-Salem, NC – Friday, March 28, 2014 – 7:00 – 8:00 – reading and book signing

Barnes and Noble, Wilmington, NC – Friday, May 16, 2014 –  4:00-7:00 – book signing

Quarter Moon Books, Topsail Beach, Topsail Island, NC – Thursday, July 31, 2014 – 4:00-7:00 – book signing



Amazon Kindle Version

“Curing Time” Reader Reviews


5.0 out of 5 stars Loved Curing Time, June 11, 2014

This review is from: Curing Time (Paperback)
I loved Curing Time by Tim Swink! It is still resonating with me two days after I finished it. I can’t quite put my finger on just why. I have read quite a few novels in my day, but I can’t get a grip on exactly why this one is still hanging with me. I almost put it down after 30 pages because the book moved slowly for me at first. I am too impatient to wait for character development –which in this work – was central to eventually turning me into a page flipping speed reader. One hundred pages in, and I felt like I was at a NASCAR event the way I was racing through the pages.The book was a place-based historical novel. It was a deep but simply told story. To capture the transition the South was making from a rural, small farm tobacco economy, to something different, was no small task. It was a time when land was passed from generation-to-generation, and was moving to a period of land development and agribusinesses. Rural and urban were becoming one big connection to growing Southern urban manufacturing centers of the 50s. Tim Swink did not ignore this transition. He captured a normally dry and boring analysis of social change, if discussed from 30,000 feet, very cleverly. He harnessed profound changes to people and things through his well-developed characters. And characters they were!
Once he accomplished that, Hume, Walt, Daisy, Ellen, Mary Ellen, and others, not only became my neighbors, I felt like I was getting a history lesson about the intricacies of daily life of a large family in a small tobacco community in transition. However, the story did not ignore racial subplots, class and religious conflicts, love, hate, commitment, and craziest of all, “believable” magical realism. After a while, when I was wrapped in the quilt of the story Tim stitched, I was right there listening, as if I were having a beer with the author. I was nowhere else but in the moment of storytelling about another time.
Good authors are like good fishermen. They bait you. They hook you. Then they let you sprint to the left, pounce to the right, make you dive down so deep it hurts, and then they pull you in, tired, nonetheless thinking, how did I get caught? I truly thought I knew what was going to happen.” Well, I still am not sure “who done it.”
What I am sure of is this. Tim’s ability to lure this “nuts and bolts,” hates gimmickry reader, into a story laced with magical realism through a cocktail of a social change, a kid’s fantasy, African American folk lore, academic verification, and booze, kept me on the edge, scratching my head, and still guessing.
Can’t wait for his next novel!


4.0 out of 5 stars Character Study with Suspenseful Story Line, May 26, 2014

J. Timothy O’Rourke (Hillsborough, North Carolina United States)
This review is from: Curing Time (Kindle Edition)
I just finished this novel by a new southern author. Highly recommend it. Great character study in a rural setting.


5.0 out of 5 stars Curing Time, March 29, 2014

John R. Thomas (Swarthmore, PA USA)
This review is from: Curing Time (Paperback)
Tim Swink is an authentic, genuine and incredible story teller. He has a talent for depicting ordinary characters in difficult lives drawing on hidden resources to survive. Magical!


5.0 out of 5 stars ‘Curing Time’, a great read!, January 30, 2014

This review is from: Curing Time (Paperback)
I am just ‘taken’ by Tim Swink’s novel, “Curing Time.” I highly recommend it. Tim develops a twisting, wonderful, page-turning plot, beautiful, lovable characters, around a late 1950’s rural North Carolina tobacco farming setting, which comes alive with mid-life struggle and crisis, race relations, a murder (which the reader is certain they have solved, only to be shocked in the end), and the magic and spirit world of an old, blind black lady.It is just a great, beautifully written book. I felt I had been on a great literary journey, full of wise lessons to be learned, while stirring the emotions from the outset. Congratulations to Tim, definitely an up and coming great southern writer. Do yourself a big favor and get a copy.


5.0 out of 5 stars  I love this book! A Must Read!  December 18, 2013

This review is from: Curing Time (Paperback)

I love this book! “Curing Time” moved me in unexpected ways that I wasn’t ready for and I didn’t see coming.Tim Swink has given us a poignant portrait of a struggle that mankind has known since Adam & Eve.What I thought was a story about tobacco farmers, I quickly discovered was a beautifully written tale of family, love, loyalty and life’s never ending changes that indeed sometimes can change the very soul of ourselves and of our country.The message in “Curing Time” is powerful and a must read. I’m giving it to everyone on my Christmas list. You will NOT be disappointed in this extraordinary read!5.0 out of 5 stars  Powerful work of historical fiction, January 17, 2014

This review is from: Curing Time (Paperback)
I have purchased many books from Amazon but this is the first book for which I felt compelled to write a review.Tim Swink has written a powerful work of historical fiction. This story takes place in the tobacco fields of North Carolina during the late 1950s. This book spoke to me because I grew up in the rural South in the 1950s; however the story could be about any man lost in a world changing beyond his grasp, and the fight to preserve family and livelihood.
It is the story of Hume Rankin, his family, and his way of life. It is also the story of Walt Neal. Walt Neal is the black man who works for Hume and whose family lives in a cabin on Hume’s land. Through Hume and Walt we also see a realistic look at the black and white co-dependency in the rural farm life of the 1950s. In many ways we see that the lives of Hume and Walt are more alike and more intertwined than either ever imagined.
It is through Walt’s blind wife, Daisy, that Hume is made aware of a dark underworld that a rational man would not disturb. The unfolding story leads us to question whether Hume’s desperate intrusion into this spirit world might ultimately be his undoing.
“Curing Time” is the term for the aging and maturing process that tobacco undergoes after harvest, when the tobacco is transformed into its final, perfected form. In this story we come to understand the term is also a metaphor for the “curing time” of a man’s soul. Will the change and adversity impacting Hume’s world strengthen him or will it destroy him, his family, and his way of life. Can Hume survive and adapt to the changes coming to his life?
Also, did a devastating series of misfortunes drive Hume to inconceivable violence?
In an ending twist, we find that Hume’s salvation may actually come from an unexpected source.
“Curing Time” is a multilayered and multifaceted story that would make a wonderful movie. Although it is rooted in the rural South, I believe it is a story with universal appeal. People should not think this is just a story about tobacco farming, because it is so much more than that.
I enjoyed the book and I also liked Tim Swink’s writing style. For example, the first sentence of Chapter 13 begins: “The sun peeked up over the landscape, hot and ornery— unusually so for a June that was no longer young.” Tim Swink’s vivid and descriptive writing added depth throughout this book.
“Curing Time” was a brilliant debut novel by Tim Swink, and I was happy to learn that he is now working on a sequel to “Curing Time.”


5.0 out of 5 stars  Good Rural Southern Fiction, January 15, 2014

This review is from: Curing Time (Paperback)
I enjoyed the book, which describes many aspects of rural agricultural life in the South of years ago. I enjoyed reading about a life and lifestyle that is unknown to me, but was intimately familiar to thousands throughout the south. As the plot progresses, it is hard to find qualities to like in the main character, but in the end, redemption is very satisfying. I look forward to reading more about this family in future novels.

I loved Curing Time. With absorbing artistry, Tim Swink depicts the mid-life struggles of a single character to weave a multifaceted tale of love and friendship, of bitter rivalry and murder, of human weakness and the magical power of life itself. As he chronicles the changes sweeping over rural America (and the nation) in the late 1950’s, Swink paints one of the truest portraits of race relations during that era that I have read. Full of great period detail and insight into how a troubled soul affects all around it, Curing Time marks the arrival of a talented new Southern writer.

~J. Peder Zane, author and former book review editor, Raleigh News and Observer.

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